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[297] with him a short time before his death. No Virginians, so far as is known, proffered him any words of kindness, unless it were the reverend clergy of the neighborhood, who tendered him the solace of religion after their fashion, which he civilly, but firmly, declined. He could not recognize any one who justified or palliated Slavery as a minister of the God he worshiped, or the Saviour in whom he trusted. He held arguments on several occasions with pro-Slavery clergymen, but recognized them as men only, and not as invested with any peculiar sanctity. To one of them, who sought to reconcile Slavery with Christianity, he said: “My dear Sir, you know nothing about Christianity; you will have to learn the A B Cs in the lesson of Christianity, as I find you entirely ignorant of the meaning of the word. I, of course, respect you as a gentleman; but it is as a heathen gentleman.” The argument here closed.

The following characteristic letter was written by him, while under sentence of death, to a relative then residing in Windham, Ohio:

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., 19th Nov., 1859.
Rev. Luther Humphrey--My Dear Friend: Your kind letter of the 12th instant is now before me. So far as my knowledge goes as to our mutual kindred, I suppose I am the first since the landing of Peter Brown from the Mayflower that has either been sentenced to imprisonment or to the gallows. But, my dear old friend, let not that fact alone grieve you. You cannot have forgotten how and where our grandfather (Captain John Brown) fell in 1776, and that he, too, might have perished on the scaffold had circumstances been but very little different. The fact that a man dies under the hand of an executioner (or otherwise) has but little to do with his true character, as I suppose. John Rogers perished at the stake, a great and good man, as I suppose: but his doing so does not prove that any other man who has died in the same way was good or otherwise. Whether I have any reason to “be of good cheer” (or not) in view of my end, I can assure you that I feel so; and that I am totally blinded if I do not really experience that strengthening and consolation you so faithfully implore in my behalf. The God of our Fathers reward your fidelity! I neither feel mortified, degraded, nor in the least ashamed of my imprisonment, my chain, or my near prospect of death by hanging. I feel assured “that not one hair shall fall from my head without the will of my heavenly Father.” I also feel that I have long been endeavoring to hold exactly “such a fast as God has chosen.” See the passage in Isaiah which you have quoted. No part of my life has been more happily spent than that I have spent here, and I humbly trust that no part has been spent to better purpose. I would not say this boastingly; but “ thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory,” through infinite grace.

I should be 60 years old were I to live till May 9, 1860. I have enjoyed much of life as it is, and have been remarkably prosperous, having early learned to regard the welfare and prosperity of others as my own. I have never, since I can remember, required a great amount of sleep, so that I conclude that I have already enjoyed full an average number of waking hours with those who reach their “three-score years and ten.” I have not as yet been driven to the use of glasses, but can see to read and write quite comfortably. But, more than that, I have generally enjoyed remarkably good health. I might go on to recount unnumbered and unmerited blessings, among which would be some very severe afflictions; and those the most needed blessings of all. And now, when I think how easily I might be left to spoil all I have done or suffered in the cause of Freedom, I hardly dare wish another voyage, even if I had the opportunity. It is a long time since we met; but we shall now soon come together in our “ Father's house,” I trust. “Let us hold fast that we already have,” remembering “ we shall reap in due time if we faint not.” “ Thanks be ever unto God. who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And now, my old warm-hearted friend, “ Good-bye.”

Your affectionate cousin,


The 2d of December was the day appointed for his execution. Nearly three thousand militia were early on the ground. Fears of a forcible rescue or of a servile insurrection prevented a large attendance of citizens. Cannon

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